By Jennifer C. Yates
This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and for
many people that means spending time outside. But the National
Council of Skin Cancer Prevention has a warning for those who want to soak
up the sun: Protect your skin.
The council has declared today “Don’t Fry Day” in hopes of
spreading skin safety awareness.
The most common form of cancer in the U.S. is skin
cancer, and it can take many forms. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are common
and highly curable, except in advanced stages, while a third increasingly
frequent kind of skin cancer, melanoma, is much more dangerous. This form is curable when treated early. Tanning, whether it be outdoors in the sun or
inside in a tanning bed, can increase your risk for all skin cancers, and
specifically has been linked to melanoma risk.
“Both kinds of recreational tanning expose you to
ultraviolet radiation in the form of UVA and UVB rays,” says John Kirkwood,
M.D., director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program at the University of
Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. “UV rays
increase your risk for skin cancer because they trigger mutations and also
knock out the immune response that enables the body to protect itself. The
effects of UV rays may not appear for years but can be just as unhealthy.”
You also can be at increased risk for skin cancer if you
have moles, a family history of skin cancer, freckling or a sensitivity to the
sun or a history of serious sunburns.
The National Council of Skin Cancer Prevention recommends
the following to help reduce your exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation:
- Do not burn or tan.
- Seek shade.
- Wear sun-protective clothing.
- Generously apply sunscreen.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand.
For more information about skin cancer, treatments and
resources, visit the UPMC